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Beautiful Civilization
May 25, 2012 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization, the 2008 remake of 1994's Sid Meier's Colonization was met with some hostility over the concept at the outset. Trevor Owens and Rebbeca Mir, contributors to Play the Past, have been making a series of blog posts about the inherently problematic nature of the game. It started with "Sid Meier's Colonization: Is it offensive enough?", next was "if (!isNative()[returnfalse;]: De-People-ing Native Peopls in Sid Meier's Colonization?", then "Guns, Germs and Horses: Cultural Exchange in Sid Meier's Colonization" and, the latest, "Playing at Slavery: Modding Colonization for Authenticity"

Meanwhile, if you want to experience the original Colonization, FreeCol is an open-source clone.
posted by griphus (88 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Coincidence: Civ V is free to play this weekend on Steam.
posted by Edogy at 7:36 AM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I loved the Colonization mod, but not because I got to simulate the mass slaughter and subjugation of people, but because the economic and exploration model was so engaging. I haven't followed the modding community closely, but I'd be very interested in a mod for Civ 5 that used that economic model for a regular (i.e. non-Colonization) game.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:40 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Original Colonization was quite beautiful as a graphical/audio experience with an interface that was a joy to use (recent remakes of the original are ugly-looking and clunky unfortunately)

The original game itself was flawed in quite a lot of ways unfortunately e.g. religious production did nothing after declaring independence; all founding fathers (the equivalent of Wonders in Civilization) could work for all the players at the same time; the Fountain of Youth bonus event was way overpowered; and one time I came across an El Doraldo city (I think, or some kind of treasure bonus discovery event) which gave me literally billions of game $ in and so ruined that particular game I was playing after the initial delight.
posted by Bwithh at 7:41 AM on May 25, 2012


I eagerly await the mod that allows the Native Americans to expel the white people from their lands and grow into superpowers in their homelands which will then invade and conquer Europe.
posted by elizardbits at 7:43 AM on May 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


You know you are old when they are remaking games you have on your list to play "sometime".

Thanks for the tip on FreeCol.
posted by DU at 7:46 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Maori beat the British cold, elizardbits. That should totally be an option.
posted by Malor at 7:47 AM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


The first post from Play the Past makes a salient point: for a game about the colonization of the Americas, the absence of slave trade (which is one of many options available to all players in Civ) is a glaring omission. No matter how much fun, this is a game that condones a pretty reprehensible view of history.
posted by Nomyte at 7:49 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I eagerly await the mod that allows the Native Americans to expel the white people from their lands and grow into superpowers in their homelands which will then invade and conquer Europe.

There's a book about that, sort of, although having never read it and also having nothing good to say about Orson Scott Card as a human being, I can't recommend it.
posted by griphus at 7:51 AM on May 25, 2012


I eagerly await the mod that allows the Native Americans to expel the white people from their lands and grow into superpowers in their homelands which will then invade and conquer Europe.

Man, I played an Earth 18 map (just regular Civ IV, no Colonization mod) the other day, and by the time my lowly caravels got to the new world, Sitting Bull had seen Montezuma's warriors driven before him and heard the lamentations of Lincoln's women, having assumed control of the entire North American continent by force. He was unstoppable juggernaut, launching periodic wars of aggression against the European mainland to harass the Egyptians for oil and the Portugese for iron. He cowed the entire western hemisphere into meek submission, and I couldn't get to his capital in time to stop him from launching his spaceship in for a mid-19th-centry win.

Moral of the story: Sid Meier makes the best games.
posted by Mayor West at 7:52 AM on May 25, 2012 [19 favorites]


dammit Edogy I had things to do this weekend!
like play Endless Space
posted by tylermoody at 7:53 AM on May 25, 2012


Also, to anyone who has played both the original Col and the new one: Is it me or is the new one fucking impossible? I never beat the original, but I could have fun with it maybe ten to fifteen minutes in. I dropped out of the new one after a half-hour because nothing was happening. Is it just a really slow-paced game or was I ignoring some necessary mechanic?
posted by griphus at 7:55 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


No matter how much fun, this is a game that condones a pretty reprehensible view of history.

Is it that depiction of something reprehensible is equal to condoning it or the idea that it's interactive and participatory?

I don't understand if it's the first part you believe. Plenty of good things depict horrible things. The second part I more understand, but I don't fully agree with.

History is messy. Why not show it, warts and all?
posted by inturnaround at 7:57 AM on May 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is an intriguing take. I agree with the basic premise that, if games are to be considered a serious medium, then we should hold them to the same standards we hold other sources of entertainment. There are certainly books and films that whitewash history and slant the approach so that we end up rooting for people who, in real life, probably would have been horrible human beings (by current standards).

On the other hand, games like Civ seem to be not such much immoral as amoral. The "hostility over the concept" link asks this question:
The obvious comparison that spring to my mind would be if somebody released a game called "Civilization IV: Confederacy," in which players have to "lead a proud people to defend their values and traditions against their oppressive neighbors to the North."
To which all I can say is, this already exists. This is a game that comes standard with a WWII scenario where you can play as the Nazis if you so choose. Even in regular play you can even select "slavery" as a governmental choice. Anyone who has ever played the game has no doubt razed a few cities. This kinds of atrocities are built into the game, and they should be if it is to try to strive towards some sort of simulation of historical realism.

I think what makes Colonization stick out, and which Owens points out, is that it doesn't really give you the choice to not be a ravaging colonial power. There's no option "that allows the Native Americans to expel the white people from their lands and grow into superpowers in their homelands which will then invade and conquer Europe." (can we take a moment to appreciate the wonder that is elizardbits? OK, good). Civ games have always been heavily slanted towards having a greater European selection of civs to choose from, but it did always give you the choice to play some counter-factual history. There is a certain satisfaction in watching Aztec tanks roll into Madrid.

There's no option for that in Colonization and, when combined with the elision of slavery and disease, it gives the game a distinctly Kipling-esque feeling. This statement from the third article sums it up for me: games about colonization should be offensive if they are meant to represent a colonialist ideology. Yup, and all this time I thought I didn't like it because the end game slog was a mess.
posted by Panjandrum at 7:58 AM on May 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


The new one did have a bug/feature where the King would increase his army incredibly fast relative to your liberty bell production. I think they toned that down a bit in a patch.

I do think it would be really interesting to revisit the concept with New Zealand. Both sides would be fun to play with that one, and you could have a cooperative victory ending.
posted by BeeDo at 7:58 AM on May 25, 2012


You want an offensive game about colonization of the Americas? I played Seven Cities of Gold quite a bit in my youth, but I'm sure it would seem pretty offensive now. (though you'd sort of expect a "criticism" section on wikipedia, there's not one)
posted by jepler at 7:59 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I eagerly await the mod that allows the Native Americans to expel the white people from their lands and grow into superpowers in their homelands which will then invade and conquer Europe."

There's a book about that, sort of, although having never read it and also having nothing good to say about Orson Scott Card as a human being, I can't recommend it.


I did read it, and it's actually not really about that at all -- instead, it's "people in the future figure out how to go back in time and convince Columbus not to be such a dick."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:00 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, to anyone who has played both the original Col and the new one: Is it me or is the new one fucking impossible? I never beat the original, but I could have fun with it maybe ten to fifteen minutes in. I dropped out of the new one after a half-hour because nothing was happening. Is it just a really slow-paced game or was I ignoring some necessary mechanic?

I've only played the version that came bundled up with Civ IV, Warlords and Beyond the Sword, and I agree that it was essentially impossible, mostly due to the time constraint. If you spend any time trying to build up your population or arms, you likely won't reach the 50% revolution sentiment required to revolt against your home country. If you focus on building up your liberty bells at the expense of your army, you'll be hopelessly outmatched by the king's forces.

I eventually learned to enjoy the game just by having a decent economy going on my own continent and ignoring anything the king wanted.
posted by LionIndex at 8:00 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, while we're on the topic - I prefered the visuals and interface of Civ III better than IV, but Civ III doesn't seem to work with Windows 7 - which is my OS now. Am I just screwed?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:02 AM on May 25, 2012


Also, can someone who has played clarify something for me? It's hard to tell from the articles or the sadly nondetailed wiki page, but does the game make any distinction between various native tribes (also is there any regional accuracy?), or are they all just an amorphous "Native" group?
posted by elizardbits at 8:02 AM on May 25, 2012


There's a Steam version of Civ III that is probably made to work on modern computers.
posted by griphus at 8:03 AM on May 25, 2012


Also: have you tried setting compatibility mode of the application to whatever OS you know it works with?
posted by griphus at 8:04 AM on May 25, 2012


They fall into categories based on "level of advancement". Aztec/Inca, Caddo, Arawak, would have slightly different characteristics. Mostly it is just how much treasure you get from burning them down...
posted by BeeDo at 8:05 AM on May 25, 2012


but does the game make any distinction between various native tribes (also is there any regional accuracy?), or are they all just an amorphous "Native" group?

There's no regional accuracy in the version I have (the map is a randomized continent or two and tribes are just randomly scattered about), but there are a number of tribes with actual historical tribal leaders. Huayna Capac leads the Incas, Montezuma leads the Aztecs, Mangas Coloradas leads the Apache, etc.
posted by LionIndex at 8:06 AM on May 25, 2012


Here's the breakdown of Native tribes in the original game. If you ctrl+F for "3.06" in this FAQ, you can see the tribes in the new one.
posted by griphus at 8:07 AM on May 25, 2012


I can't speak to the Civ IV mod, but the original colonization had maybe 10 seperate native tribes, and there was vague regional accuracy (in the "americas" real-life map). I can remember Iroquois in the American north, Arawak in the Caribbean, Cherokee in the American south, Apache in the west, Tupi in what would be Brazil, Inca in Chile, Aztec in Mexico, and maybe a few others I can't recall.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 8:07 AM on May 25, 2012


It's hard to tell from the articles or the sadly nondetailed wiki page, but does the game make any distinction between various native tribes (also is there any regional accuracy?), or are they all just an amorphous "Native" group?

....Yes and no.

The different tribes exist, and are given different qualities in character which subtly affect game play, but there isn't necesssarily any attempt to geographically locate them in historically appropriate places; the Iroquois could end up on the same continent as the Sumerians, say. And the "continents" do not resemble the Earth Continents we are familiar with anyway.

And all the ethnic groups go through similar stages of "modernity", so you run into things where "Abraham Lincoln, President of the Americas" is dressed in a fur tunic early in the game, and then later on, during the "Modern Age," Huayna Capac is speaking to you and he's dressed in a 3-piece Armani power suit.

Also: have you tried setting compatibility mode of the application to whatever OS you know it works with?

My old copy of Civ III , purchased in 1998, doesn't seem to be able to. I was hoping a version I bought today would allow me to update it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:08 AM on May 25, 2012


elizardbits: I eagerly await the mod that allows the Native Americans to expel the white people from their lands and grow into superpowers in their homelands which will then invade and conquer Europe.

You can do this exact thing in Empire: Total War, and it's a blast.
posted by gilrain at 8:10 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh, that's better than I was expecting, tbh.
posted by elizardbits at 8:10 AM on May 25, 2012


Still wish Sid Meier would come up with a new game idea. For a while he was talking about making something called "Dinosaurs."

jepier: I thought "Seven Cities of Gold" was an interesting take on genocide. If you ran around wiping everyone out, it felt sad, like a hollow victory, and I think it made things worse. But it was really abstract.
posted by steinsaltz at 8:11 AM on May 25, 2012


I eagerly await the mod that allows the Native Americans to expel the white people from their lands and grow into superpowers in their homelands which will then invade and conquer Europe.

Scenarios like this are exactly what the vanilla Civilization games are for. I've never played the colonization variants but these articles make it sound like Civilization: White People Always Win Edition.
posted by cirrostratus at 8:13 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


My old copy of Civ III , purchased in 1998, doesn't seem to be able to.

I'm slightly confused by your statement and I have no idea what your level of computer-skill is, so when I say "set compatibility mode" I mean right click on the executable, go to properties, hit the "Compatibility tab," enable "Run this program in compatibility mode for..." and choose Windows 98 or Windows XP.

Otherwise, the Steam version is five whole dollars and almost guaranteed to work.
posted by griphus at 8:13 AM on May 25, 2012


Huayna Capac is speaking to you and he's dressed in a 3-piece Armani power suit.

Okay, that is super offensive. No way is Armani sassy enough for a Sapa Inca.
posted by elizardbits at 8:14 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow. Sooner or later they will release a game where you are a murderous tool of current American and/or western foreign policy mowing down countless anonymous non-white people, helping to propogate the acceptability of subjugating and killing people in their own homes. Come that day I hope we are all strong enough to say no.
posted by biffa at 8:14 AM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I bought civ3 on steam for 5$ a month ago and it works fine on win7. I had the old cd of it that refused to play nice.
posted by M Edward at 8:14 AM on May 25, 2012


inturnaround: Is it that depiction of something reprehensible is equal to condoning it or the idea that it's interactive and participatory?

Read my first sentence. The point is selective depiction.
posted by Nomyte at 8:20 AM on May 25, 2012


Still wish Sid Meier would come up with a new game idea. For a while he was talking about making something called "Dinosaurs."

Ooh, there's a mod patch for Civ that I found once - the game play was still the same, except the "barbarians" you encounter at the beginning are all dinosaurs instead; they behave the same and game play is the same, but rather than your citizens getting attacked by white-garbed warriors, they get attacked by t-rexes and velociraptors and such.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:26 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm slightly confused by your statement and I have no idea what your level of computer-skill is, so when I say "set compatibility mode" I mean right click on the executable, go to properties, hit the "Compatibility tab," enable "Run this program in compatibility mode for..." and choose Windows 98 or Windows XP.

What I meant by "doesn't seem to be able to" means that I tried that and it didn't work. I'll try the steampowered option...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:28 AM on May 25, 2012


Oh my god someone needs to make a Hanna Barbera mod that has the technology tree take your civ from Flintstones to Jetsons.
posted by griphus at 8:28 AM on May 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Shh... nobody tell them about Pirates! Those guys weren't very nice either.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 8:29 AM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder why I've never heard anyone make the same criticism of Oregon Trail which is a game about the same topic at a different scale.
posted by euphorb at 8:30 AM on May 25, 2012


I wonder why I've never heard anyone make the same criticism of Oregon Trail which is a game about the same topic at a different scale.

Is forcing your cheaply made spare banker clothes on those hapless river guides any different than dumping cheap food aid on poor Africans?
posted by Copronymus at 8:39 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


maybe they really like peperony and chease though
posted by elizardbits at 8:43 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh good, proof that you literally cannot give CIV V away.

I played the update of Colonization, it sucks. It's clunky, slow, tedious and full of fife music.


Blargh.
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 AM on May 25, 2012


Oh good, proof that you literally cannot give CIV V away.

Dude, I liked Civ IV too, but V has its own set of charms. The military game is far more strategic and dynamic, the city-state mechanic is brilliant and the social policy tree inspired. Plus there are Giant Death Robots in the endgame.

And now the Gods and Kings expansion is bringing back religion and espionage, the loss of which were my biggest complaints about Civ V. And Civ V will have NINE religions! And they're tweaking the tech tree somewhat! Hooray!
posted by mightygodking at 8:48 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


but Civ III doesn't seem to work with Windows 7 - which is my OS now. Am I just screwed?

Wasn't that a DOS based game still? Do you have dosbox installed? If all else fails, try and run it in a virtual pc (e.g. Oracle VirtualBox) with WinXP installed.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:49 AM on May 25, 2012


Mightygodking, I could never get through a game long enough to reach Death Ribots, but I always had a feeling the game was like an expansion pack or two away from being the game I wanted, so thanks for the ray of hope, I'll check it out when it comes out.
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 AM on May 25, 2012


Death Ribits being warlike frogs of course.
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


You asked for BattleToads for your birthday and instead grandma got you Death Ribits and it was one of those black Jameco cartridges that didn't work in your Nintendo.
posted by griphus at 8:53 AM on May 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


I eagerly await the mod that allows the Native Americans to expel the white people from their lands and grow into superpowers in their homelands which will then invade and conquer Europe.

You can also do this in Civ V as the leader of at least two civilizations "native" to North America. Technically there are Ethiopians and that's it, based on the current view of the archeological record.

vaguely historic characters thrown in for flavor is that history comes with baggage and a lot of that baggage is not particularly attractive. There were some people who got up in arms about Battlefield 1942 because, this just in, in WWII lots of ugly shit went down. Realistically the game was little more than Team Fortress with WWII skin and unless you happened to know the real world history of Iwo Jima and who started where, there was no way someone didn't know anything about WWII could have guessed which side committed the rape of Nanking and which side nuked some civilian targets to end the war "with a bang".
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:56 AM on May 25, 2012


Civ V is ok but the city-states make you feel like you're a plucky 13-year-old with a sword doing quests for the local villagers; like the one unit-per-square with archers shooting for miles business, it makes the game feel oddly small. I am looking forward to Civ V: Beyond The Sword, though.
posted by furiousthought at 9:14 AM on May 25, 2012


Civ V is ok but the city-states make you feel like you're a plucky 13-year-old with a sword doing quests for the local villagers

You bother to do the quests? Man, I just kill 'em. FEEL THE WRATH OF MY MIGHTY POLYNESIAN EMPIRE!
posted by mightygodking at 9:26 AM on May 25, 2012



Wasn't that a DOS based game still? Do you have dosbox installed? If all else fails, try and run it in a virtual pc (e.g. Oracle VirtualBox) with WinXP installed.


I should probably admit that my level of computer-speak familiarity is just barely above the level of "Big sun in sky, many buffalo come."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


If we triangulate the phaser array around the game's hard-light matrix and oscillate it at 400 Hz, it may re-structure the temporal lattice, allowing you to play the game on your current PC.
posted by griphus at 9:33 AM on May 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


(Like putting too much air in a balloon!)
posted by griphus at 9:34 AM on May 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Griphus, you didn't recalibrate the navigation dish! I know everybody has multiphasic shielding nowadays, but one stray crystalline warp-signature, and EmpressCallipygos turns into a relativistic dust cloud heading toward Orion!
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:46 AM on May 25, 2012


Didn't we just have that encounter with the crystalline lifeforms of Rigel-12? Because that means...

ENTERPRISE is in stationary orbit above 15TH CENTURY EARTH. Numerous warships are seen departing from the east coast of North America and headed toward Portugal.

posted by griphus at 9:49 AM on May 25, 2012


venting warp core.
posted by The Whelk at 9:49 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What if we reverse the polarity of the neutron flow?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What if we reverse the polarity of the neutron flow?

There. Isn't. Enough. Time.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:52 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, when is a Civ game gonna get a Canadian civilization? I mean come on, we would totally be the awesomest civ out there.
posted by mightygodking at 9:53 AM on May 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I really dug the Colonization boot-scootin' tunes though (best with OPL3 FM synthesis)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:55 AM on May 25, 2012


The original game itself was flawed in quite a lot of ways unfortunately e.g. religious production did nothing after declaring independence
Bwithh, that's a not a bug, that's a correction to the flaw in reality. sadly, for reality.
posted by davemee at 9:59 AM on May 25, 2012


All I know is that I miss Total Annihilation and Dark Reign 2.
posted by srboisvert at 10:03 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Poor guy - he's either not very code-literate, or else perhaps in his haste, he just missed the "!" sign that negates the logic that he thought was a metaphor not only for the central thesis of his piece, but also good enough upon which to hang the very title of the article:
When it is put in the context of if (!isNative()){return false;} the logic of the sentiment reads like a sentence. If a given people “isNative” then the game should “return false,” that is, the system should negate a given rule set in place for all of the other peoples who have not explicitly been marked as “isNative”. What matters here is that the isNative label is used to turn off the abilities and characteristics of what it means to be a people.
Props to the author, though, for keeping his original text visible, and for copping to his mistake:
The struck through sentences are, in fact, exactly backward. Disregarding those sentences, the idea behind them remains
posted by kcds at 10:03 AM on May 25, 2012


You can still buy modern-PC-compatible (probably) copies of Total Annihilation and Dark Reign 2 on GoG.
posted by griphus at 10:07 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are a couple of colonization themed board games that I just can't play. I am ruthless at Settlers and will cut off your road without a thought, but getting involved in a (even fictional) slave trade is too much for me.

Another recommendation for alternate history, also from Orson Scott Card: the Alvin Maker series is excellent - very interesting exploration of colonisation and race through the medium of fantasy/alternative history.
posted by jb at 10:08 AM on May 25, 2012


Dunno if this is true or not, but I heard that in the early versions of the (very excellent) boardgame Puerto Rico, the "colonists" were referred to as "slaves". Which, in actuality, would be far more historically accurate. I don't think many of the actual colonists were hard at work in the sugarcane fields.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:19 AM on May 25, 2012


I recall that the original game had a scorecard which deducted points for destroying native settlements. Maybe a better way of working the whole game would be to let the player do as they choose, but openly mark their score as a perpetrator of genocide or archslaver. They could even, as on some games, not only mark your outcomes in the score, but prefix it with a moral "good or bad". So sure, you might get 1500 points being bad, but your challenge would then be to match that being good.
posted by Jehan at 10:20 AM on May 25, 2012


Also, when is a Civ game gonna get a Canadian civilization? I mean come on, we would totally be the awesomest civ out there.

Civ Ehhight?
posted by Renoroc at 10:21 AM on May 25, 2012


Also, I'm all in favor of historical accuracy, but if a game designer's gonna go that route, they should have to go whole hog. Like, if there's a native population and you choose to have an adversarial relationship with them, your citizens should randomly massacre them and make you (the player) feel like a terrible person.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:36 AM on May 25, 2012


Also, when is a Civ game gonna get a Canadian civilization? I mean come on, we would totally be the awesomest civ out there.

Shhh... pass it on...
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:44 AM on May 25, 2012


You can still buy modern-PC-compatible (probably) copies of Total Annihilation and Dark Reign 2 on GoG.

Yes, and I'm soo grateful for whichever bastich mentioned gog here once, as the past two months or so I bought some twenty games there, usually on sale (being Dutch and all), but have no time to play them all.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:49 AM on May 25, 2012


Civ games are great and all, but they can't Paradox's historical games in terms of verisimilitude and potential to recreate some of history's greatest imperialist atrocities.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:54 AM on May 25, 2012


Also, when is a Civ game gonna get a Canadian civilization?

BC Bud wonder:
Citizen happiness +3, Productivity -5
posted by LordSludge at 11:15 AM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Europa Universalis series actually has slavery, although as history progresses you can outlaw it, and if you so desired you could make abolition the sole focus of your nation.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:18 PM on May 25, 2012


Also, when is a Civ game gonna get a Canadian civilization? I mean come on, we would totally be the awesomest civ out there.

Which English monarch would you like for your leader?
posted by biffa at 12:32 PM on May 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can still buy modern-PC-compatible (probably) copies of Total Annihilation and Dark Reign 2 on GoG.

You are awesome! However, my wife may come to hate you.
posted by srboisvert at 1:49 PM on May 25, 2012


Hooray I've ruined another marriage!
posted by griphus at 1:53 PM on May 25, 2012


(Two more and I get a free sub and small drink.)
posted by griphus at 1:54 PM on May 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I love everything about the updated Colonization except that its almost impossible to win a War of Independence because the Royal Expeditionary Force gets so ridiculously large by the time you have enough rebel sentiment. Kinda takes the joy out of playing it.

And I don't think its offensive to show what actually happened. It's a fascinating period of history, both good and bad. When I play, I try to avoid the natives as best I can. And I never play the spanish since killing the natives is their whole thing. Squicks me out.
posted by dry white toast at 1:55 PM on May 25, 2012


Does anybody remember Imperialism II ? I wasted months on that game.
posted by Pendragon at 2:02 PM on May 25, 2012


I recall that the original game had a scorecard which deducted points for destroying native settlements.

That was a flaw in the original, IMO. If you attacked the Indians, you would have a lot of score deducted but this seemed to me a late addition to the game (possibly caused by not wanting to appear racist or genocidal and draw the kind of accusations as in the posts). If you play as Spain, you get an advantage in attacking Indians and there is a Founding Father that helps in the amount of treasure you received. That seemed to me more or less accurate: you could choose to play either as a genocidal conqueror or coexist with the Indians (especially if you played as France which had better native relations). Losing points fot attacking Indians pretty much destroyed the value of playing as either of these powers. Slavery? I think I read somewhere that Meier's team found it difficult to model then. Now they seem to have come up with ideas. One thing about Colonization: the only place to get slaves would be by enslaving Indians or other Europeans; you have no access to Africa.

FreeCol is an interesting (but buggy) take on the original game. You can play by new rules (which make exploration and Founding Fathers far more difficult) or by the original. Some parts of the game, like sailing back to the New World have been improved: you can choose your destination now. And I think the economic structure is a little better -- in the original, trading in anything, even silver, soon reduced the value of that commodity to nothing. Neither version (I haven't played the new Colonization nor the Civ mods) really has a good economic system. The commodities ought to be seen as representative of categories: precious metals, new products like tobacco, commodities dependent on fad and fashion like furs, and so on, and their value fluctuate accordingly. The fur trade is totally misunderstood and needs reworking.

Finally, in FreeCol, the game developers are trying to work in a method by which you can play as an Indian.
posted by CCBC at 3:30 PM on May 25, 2012


History is messy. Why not show it, warts and all?

I've not played it, so I could be off-base here, but isn't the criticism precisely that the game elides the messiness and warts in favour of a (no doubt historically accurate) colonialist perspective, as opposed to the reality of exploitation, slavery, crime and massacre?
posted by smoke at 4:29 PM on May 25, 2012


Civ games are great and all, but they can't Paradox's historical games in terms of verisimilitude and potential to recreate some of history's greatest imperialist atrocities.

On the other hand, you can pursue interesting objectives e.g. play as the (tiny) Duchy of Lorraine, marry into Alsace and then conquer both France and the territory of the Holy Roman Empire.

There should be MeFi Total Annihilation games methinks.
posted by ersatz at 5:19 PM on May 25, 2012


History is messy. Why not show it, warts and all?

I've not played it, so I could be off-base here, but isn't the criticism precisely that the game elides the messiness and warts in favour of a (no doubt historically accurate) colonialist perspective, as opposed to the reality of exploitation, slavery, crime and massacre?
posted by smoke at 4:29 PM on 5/25
[+] [!]


Historical accuracy - with whatever perspective - is not a priority in the design or experience of the Civ games. These aren't intended as educational games or history simulators. The primary design priority is to make fun, addictive, strategy games for sale.
posted by Bwithh at 7:14 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recall a rather fast cycle of enjoying then growing bored with it once it came out. It was rekindled some years later once I delved into the rich modding community.

My favorite mod (of which I was a modmod modder) was by far Fall From Heaven. It turns Civ into a Tolkienesque* game with magic and dragons and you get to decide if the Dwarves dig too deeply or the Orcs wipe out mankind.

Holy wars are a lot more fun when it's all make believe.

* I am not throwing the world Tolkien around lightly. Kael knows how to tell a story, and in this game has created a world that is interesting, sensible and full of mystery. If this guy was my DM I would totally still be playing D&D today.
posted by chemoboy at 9:30 PM on May 25, 2012


Also, when is a Civ game gonna get a Canadian civilization?

Well, Civ V: Gods & Kings is going to feature the CN Tower as a wonder. Not sure of its stats yet.
posted by Extra-Strength Placebo at 8:49 AM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess the CN tower will be like the Eiffel tower wonder ?
posted by Bwithh at 9:31 AM on May 26, 2012


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